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Federal Jury Convicts Man of Fraud in Mortgage Debt Reduction Scheme

March 5, 2020, 7:38 AM HST
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A Tennessee man involved in a fraudulent mortgage debt reduction scheme was found guilty of various counts of fraud by a federal jury in Honolulu.

After a four-week trial, Anthony T. Williams, 48, of Nashville, Tenn., was convicted on 32 counts of wire and mail fraud. Sentencing is scheduled for June 24, 2020.

According to the evidence presented at trial, Williams marketed mortgage debt reduction to distressed homeowners, who were mostly non-native English speakers in the Filipino immigrant community in Hawai‘i. Williams created two companies, Mortgage Enterprise Investments (MEI) and Common Law Office of America (CLOA), neither of which was licensed to service or modify mortgages.

According to evidence presented at trial, Williams enlisted 112 victims between 2012-15 into his MEI program and fraudulently obtained over $218,000. According to a press release from the US Department of Justice, several victims testified at trial, stating they relied upon Williams’s representations and went into foreclosure as a result of the MEI program and lost their homes.

Through MEI, Williams made conflicting promises to clients that he could eliminate their existing mortgage obligations to their lenders, or reduce their mortgage obligations by half. Through CLOA, Williams promised legal representation in mortgage-related litigation and foreclosure proceedings.

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To give himself the appearance of credibility, Williams told prospective clients he was a “private attorney general” and brandished an official-looking law enforcement badge and credentials, despite not having a law license or any affiliation with law enforcement.

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The evidence at trial showed Williams falsely promised victims that he could eliminate their existing home mortgage obligations by filing bogus documents with the Hawai‘i Bureau of Conveyances. These documents included new MEI mortgages and notes obligating homeowners to make monthly payments to MEI.

“Williams then advised homeowners to stop making their mortgage payments to their lenders and to pay him instead,” the release states.

The investigation was led by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kenneth M. Sorenson and Gregg Paris Yates handled the prosecution.

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